Dirt devils

The dirt on dirt biking

Aanya Agarwal, Opinions Editor

Some kids play volleyball, others dabble in chess or speech. Two students, however, have a slightly more unconventional hobby — dirt biking.

Surprisingly enough, most riders learn to bike without any professional help. But how does one even start the infatuation with such a dangerous pastime? For some, dirt biking is literally in their blood.

“My dad rode dirt bikes when he was my age,” freshman Ryan Fleck said. “Then he just stayed with it and it kept going with me and my brother.”

Dirt biking serves as more than just a hobby. For senior Nikhil Gadgil, it’s also a way to make some money.

“I bought my first [bike] for $600 and sold it for $1350. Then I bought another one for $1350 and sold it for $2000. Then I bought another one for $2000 and traded it for a sports bike then traded that sports bike for a Mustang,” Gadgil said.

Some ride for leisure, others do it competitively. Riding competitions are usually on Saturdays, and competitors often return home late at night.

“[Competitions are] a two-hour format and you race through the trees in the woods. You start and you do as many laps as you can in the trees, and when the two hours are up you see who got the most laps,” Fleck said.

Although they’re incredibly hard, competitions offer a chance for participants to venture out of their hometowns and visit new places.

“My favorite part about it would have to be the traveling,” Fleck said.

As exciting as competition is, it’s not for everyone. There are serious risks that have to be taken into account.

“I was going to compete, but it’s too many injuries and I don’t have money for medical bills,” Gadgil said.

For those who prefer to keep their wheels close to home, there are still multiple places to go and enjoy dirt biking.

“There’s an OHV park in Des Moines or we just take them to the streets,” Gadgil said.

As fun as the activity is, it’s also incredibly dangerous. In fact, In Arizona alone, 23,000 children and teens are treated for nonfatal injuries due to off-roading each year according to Phillips Law Group Phoenix Dirt Bike Accident Lawyers. Obviously then, injuries in dirt biking are pretty common.

“On my birthday I crashed my dirt bike and got six stitches and six staples in my leg,” Gadgil said.

All possible negative outcomes considered, dirt biking remains a favorite hobby for those involved in it.

“Yeah it’s pretty dangerous, [but] it’s fun and an adrenaline rush,” Fleck said.

So if volleyball isn’t your thing and you’ve never been a good public speaker, perhaps dirt biking is the path for you. Just make sure to wear a helmet whenever you ride.